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As I See It by Jimmy Vaccaro

4 December 2002

by Jimmy Vaccaro

Anyone who follows gambling internet stories picked up last week's story written by Las Vegas journalist Kevin Iole involving local gambler Ronny Boyles and Archie Manteris who runs the Stations properties here in Las Vegas.

It was all about Ronny making a bet on the Miami Heat a little before post then finding out that both McGrady and Hill would not be in the starting lineup for the Magic. Whether he knew or not is really not the question but what to do is more on the subject line I will discuss.

If you read the article you have seen that the casino gave him a choice: to void the bet or, if he wished to keep the wager, in all likelihood he would be banned from all their properties. Ronny chose to keep the bet concluding that he basically did nothing wrong. The bet won and I believe he got barred.

Personally I do not agree with the decision, but I do not make policy for any casino. Ronny had called me that Sunday night and told me of the situation, so we spoke for about one half hour about it. I have known him for around 15 years and believed what he told me was factual.

I spoke to Kevin Iole the next morning and told him my thoughts on the incident. I read his column in the morning paper and, like everyone, drew my own conclusions. Now to the third party who is Archie Manteris: I have known both Archie and his family for almost 30 years going way back to my Pittsburgh roots. I do not live far from the Palace Station where Archie keeps his base and I go in a few times a week to check a few numbers. I play there very infrequently but do stop in on occasion. Again this beef is none of my business so I stay out of things I literally have no say over.

As I was sitting in the sports book Archie noticed that I was there. He always comes out and we generally talk for a few minutes and that is the end of it. We had a small talk but since this issue created a decent stir we started to get into it. Remember this: whatever your take is on Archie (by his own admission he has detractors on the way he conducts some of his business in his relationship with the casinos he has worked for) he would be on the short list for every sports book in the state of Nevada to front their operation. Notice I said Nevada and not offshore.

If the final two applicants came down to Archie and anybody else, including people like the late Bob Martin, in today's corporate structure it would be a walkover. Archie would be hired because he is exactly what the corporate run books are looking for in today's environment. He runs a tight ship, speaks well in front of any audience (which, at times, will include his bosses or that of any regulatory board or commission), and will never say anything to the press that will in any way have a negative effect on the company. You might not like what he says but there will not be any loopholes in his speech. You must understand that casinos, like a lot of high profile businesses, have the greatest cosmetic surgery guys in the world who come forward to defend their position. The greatest PR guys in the world now work for these joints. The reason being is that THEY DO NOT TRUST ANYBODY.

When it comes down to sensitive issues these guys earn their cash by taking something that might make their company have a dark light cast upon them and do a little spin work. This is not directed at the Stations but at all of the casinos. It is a part of the way they do business.

Remember the movie "CASINO" where De Niro is talking about how a casino is run? The dealer watches the player, the floorman is watching the dealer, the pit boss is watching the floorman, the casino manager is watching the pit boss, I am watching the casino manager, and the eye in the sky is watching everybody. The reason being is: NOBODY TRUST ANYBODY.

Like every business there is a check and balance system, as well there should be, but these guys all went to Paranoia U. The top puts more than subtle pressure on the soldiers downstairs not to have anyone play any game on a consistent basis if they have taken the negative expectation out of the game.

A card counter is not a cheater but levels the playing field. Over thousands of hands he can show between a 1% and 3% profit on his investment, and you know how casinos treat card counters. It's the same way in sports: they do not want to deal to someone who can make it, at best, an even gamble and they rarely make exceptions.

Archie did what most of the casino people in Vegas did to Ronny, considering they know that Ronny just does not freak his money up. When he makes a bet he has a valued opinion. It may not always win, but he has a clue on how the game is played. Archie asked me a few questions about Ronny and I gave him my opinion, but only after he asked for it.

I told him I thought he acted too fast and made his decision without speaking to Ronny personally. I also told him the gate swings both ways. See there is this unwritten law that if a "smart" bets you a side (and he knows something peculiar about the game) then you should give him his bet. If he should give you what he knows about the game, then it might be useful in adjusting or taking the game down. Is it bullet proof? No. It works, however, because the people playing do not want to lose you for an out. Archie has never endeared himself to that faction of the business and, publicly, has stated that.

I asked Arch if he had ever played another injury game before the news came out and he answered "No." I then told Arch that these guys really should not have to be cops for the joints either and I would check my own staff on exactly when the injury came on the Don Best screen and how and when it was addressed from your side. He said that Ronny was on a lot of moves but still could not recall an injury game. I said we all try that so you can't hang him for that. He laughed.

Then I did say this: what if he, or anybody else, would have made a substantial bet on the Magic and right at post tried to void the ticket because he saw the news or a major line adjustment? Also, how would you have reacted to that?

We always hear of integrity and dealing on the square so it has got to come full circle. I know it is a buyer-beware market, but the casinos have much the best of it in those situations.

If you would have filed a complaint with gaming saying you made a bet with good faith with the casino, and they knew that both Hill and McGrady were not playing but they let you make a bet on the team, you would have gotten that buyer-beware speech from gaming and a way out the door. Trust me it does not work both ways. It never has and never will. It only works from the casino side if you play into a negative expectation and never try to slant the odds to at least a favorable position.

If you have something that might show you a consistent profit they do not trust you and then the ripple effect starts from the top. When the writer Kevin Iole asked me about how I thought upper management would treat this it was a no-brainer: if you read the piece then i do not have to explain it.

It will not change the fortunes of any casino and the lines will be 10 deep at every sports book window when they are kicking off. Ronny's story will be just that in a few weeks - another story. I could be way off base, but I believe nothing will change.

One idea I gave Arch was that, even after the adjustment was made on the game, you should still list that both players for the Magic are out of the game. In the future an unsuspecting square will see what he is buying and never have a beef. This stuff has been part of the fabric of sports betting and will always be a part, but I think it could have been handled differently.

Archie has been broadsided all week, but do not look for a different face running the Station's book because Archie fits the prototype that the Nevada operators like.

Take care,

Jimmy V

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